My Fitness

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

surrender all

I have been going through a Beth Moore study called John. It's very basic but what I like about it is that it can be done quickly (handy with four kids running around!) and it can be in-depth or not depending on the reader.

With my husband flying to a work conference earlier this week, my overly-active pregnancy imagination has been thinking about what how we will cope when he dies in a plane crash. How we will survive. Where we will live. Our car, income, schooling, etc has all been considered. It sounds a bit crazy but I haven't been obsessing, it was just a thought. In my imagination, everything works out. But the point is that I would be stricken with despair for a period of time.

It wasn't any consolation when today's lesson was how to trust God through despair. I started wondering, "hey God are you trying to prepare me for something?"

And yes, He is. He is preparing me for eternity. He is training me in righteousness and conforming me to the image of His Son, Jesus. Who has suffered more than Christ? And through His Passion by the joy set before him he endured the cross and became sin, such a feat we barely understand. It is such a small thing then to say I surrender all to him!

What does it mean to surrender all to Jesus? It means I give up my culture, my identity, my desires, my thinking, the people I love, the activities I enjoy, the possessions I have. It's all gone. Practically that means any time my culture conflicts with the Bible, I side with the Bible. If my culture says that morally we do one thing but the Bible disagrees, then we disagree. If I identify as one type of gender but the Bible says otherwise, then I surrender my rights to decided who I am and let God decide. If my desires are for a certain lifestyle but the Bible says "no" then I give up my desires and stop seeking that lifestyle. My family and friends are not here to serve me or for me to serve them, but together we serve Christ. They come and go to the glory of God. I do not get to cling so tightly to my husband that I say he is the love of my life - that honor is for Christ alone. Our marriage is built on the solid foundation of God - not on love, mutual respect, or even the desire to do good. Should he leave me through death, my life goes on. Our marriage dies when one of us dies. It does not carry on. If I burry one of my children, their memory will live with me, but they will not. They don't live in my heart and they don't watch me from the clouds. They can't hear me when I call out to them. Signs and omens will be a construct of my imagination and not come from ungodly power source they discover upon death.

I surrender my thinking. I don't get to decide what is right and wrong based on what I feel. I get to read the Bible every day and decide what is right and wrong, morally, based on what pleases and displeases God. My opinion is conformed and changed into his opinion. I don't get to say, "All babies go to heaven because I just can't imagine God sending a baby to hell." That's not what the Bible says. The Bible is silent about special circumstances; so I remain silent about special circumstances. But I'm not going to LIE and say "God would not do that" when he never said such things. I get to say, "I don't know what he does but I know that after we die the truth will be revealed and we will agree that what he has done is GOOD."

If my possessions do not honor God, I get rid of them. If I am not using what he has given me to bring him glory, then I change that item's purpose. If I enjoy an activity that is ungodly, then I stop. If my motives behind an otherwise good activity are not godly then I change my attitude or stop the behavior. I do not have kids because I want kids. I have kids to honor God.

I give it all to him freely, not begrudgingly. I'm not reluctant to give him my birth control because I know that only He creates life and any life (or 12) that he creates was on purpose. Does that mean I give up vacations and a nice house? Quite possibly. But I give that to him too. I give it all. My life is not my own. I do not live for me. I do not live for happiness. I do not live for justice. I do not live for the greater good. I live only for God's glory which is the only way to receive true happiness, true justice, true goodness.

I will always love him because he did the greatest sacrifice for me - he became my sin so that my sin is gone. We don't grasp the vastness of that sentiment. We don't understand the enormity of disgustingness that is our tiniest sins. We see people as "innocent" and "guilty". But if surrender all to him, I surrender that concept too which is counter-biblical. The Bible says that all have sinned and we are all sinners. We are all guilty.

But I trust him. Trusting God means I know his word is right. He will do what he has said he will do. I trust that he is working everything together for good for those who love him.

Daily, I will be in his presence. That means I'm more than a church-goer. I'm more than just a check-box Christian. I read the Bible every day, but I also meditate on it. I memorize it. I let it change me.

I fail hourly. But I'm trying. I want to be better and be more like Jesus. It's hard. I do not understand my own actions. I don't do what I want to do, and I do the very things I hate. I don't understand me. But I surrender me to God.








Monday, April 3, 2017

cultural blind spot

Traveling across the United States, I've experienced many of the cultures that call this country home as well as many cultures that have come across the sea to call this country their second home.

Originally I was going to write in detail about the strangeness of this one particular culture that I was forced to inhabit. It was decidedly odd due to the fact that it claimed to have a singular grasp of Christianity and yet failed to be godly in almost any regard. But digging up the memories was painful and lead into another lesson I've been trying to grasp about learning to love a people despite their culture and even through their culture (although especially difficult with this group of people who were so lost and blind and yet thought they were the only ones who could see..."hypocrite" is an understatement). So instead of this tangent curve, I'm using this one paragraph to say that this culture had giant blind spots.

It's easy to see other people's blind spots.

What they revealed to me was that blind spots exist. And being a bit of a realist and humble enough to know that I am sinful (and not just a vague "nobody's perfect"), I started asking myself where my blind spots are.

It's easy to see other people's blind spots. But you can't see your own. You need help. When it's pointed out you have to be willing to accept that you are wrong. You have to change. You have put your pride aside and let yourself be conformed into the image of Christ.

(Christ does not belong to a single culture. Your culture is not Biblical or godly unless it is the culture outlined in our ancient Scriptures. It isn't, so it isn't. Democracies, republics, socialism, anarchy, or communism are not godly forms of government. Stop worshipping your political preference.)

I have four kids and am pregnant with my fifth. I am almost exclusively exhausted. This is hard. My job and hobbies are physically active and require a high level of fitness. I pity myself regularly that my arms seem more adept to holding hands than for a perfect port de bras or solid plank. I literally cry. Why can't I seem to stay fit while pregnant? It makes me sad. It makes me mad. I should be able to be fit.

Enter in my husband with his ever-blunt words of practicality. Apparently in my culture of physical fitness I have been blinded into what womanhood is. Raising kids and being a good wife while maintaining my temple is good and right. And I'm doing that. Being at my physical peak is not a requirement that God has placed on me. That doesn't mean I sit around and eat Doritos all day. I do my best to beat my body into submission but I do it knowing that it's a secondary or even tertiary to my main goal of glorifying God with my family.

[Some people get to focus on their physical fitness and God has called other people to other things. I'm not downplaying that or saying they are not being women. But when you are a wife, your focus should be your husband. If children enter the picture, they come next. A wife takes a seat behind her husband. A mother, behind her children. (Husbands take a seat behind their wives. Fathers, behind their children.)]

So here I've been critically and painfully aware of the shortcomings of the cultures that surround me wondering how they can be so blind all while my own fitness culture has blinded me to the fact that I am very physically fit. Idolizing fitness is not necessary. And it's sinful.

Thus I slay that idol. All cultural idols must die. I will never be happy as long as they live in my heart.

If you are prideful in this area, you will fall and it will be painful. The only way to find those blind spots and slay that dragon is to honestly let God shape your worldview. I've seen many people who claim to have a Biblical worldview but they still bring their culture into that worldview. You have to be willing to be wrong. You have to be willing that people you dislike are right.





Tuesday, March 21, 2017

tiara wearing first

My friend, Lissa, has inspired me with her hashtag #tiarawearingfirst It speaks to the royalty of children of God. If God is King, and I am his heir, then I am a princess. I wear a tiara. If I am a follower of Christ then I should desire to read God's Word and follow it. Lissa starts her day with Bible reading. For some reason, the quirkiness of "wearing a tiara" makes a daily devotion time more enjoyable. It helps me to see the privilege of being able to read God's Word. Instead of begrudgingly reading my Bible and fearing boredom, I read it gladly. Wearing a tiara, helps me rightly see that I should be excited about spending time with God just like wearing a tiara is exciting. It means I am special. I am the daughter of someone special. 

To help me align my heart and mind before diving into Scripture, I pray. Otherwise I get in the habit of speed reading just to get it over with. Obviously not the right attitude to go into the most important part of existence.

I wrote a prayer that I change every now and again but the same meaning is there. I change it so that the prayer doesn't become route memorization. I don't want to just be saying words. I want my heart to be speaking genuine desire. 

Here is my prayer:
Heavenly Father,

As I read Your Word, use it to cleanse me of impurities, convict me of sin, and encourage me in righteousness. 

Help me to focus on You. Help me to enjoy You. Help me to worship You. Help me to become more like You every day.
Amen


Here's an image of this morning tiara wearing first session. My daughter was coloring my written out prayer. She woke as I was starting. It's ok for tiara wearing to be sloppy looking. It's the heart that matters.




Monday, March 20, 2017

bragging on my son

Let me tell you about this amazing young man, Caleb. He's an inward thinker. He's really goofy. He likes being around other people but after a couple of hours he needs seclusion to recharge. He loves video games and does not really like school. But he's really good at schoolwork! Like, REALLY good.

He went to public school from August to December. Admittedly, his school was pretty bad, his teacher was pretty bad, and the rest of the faculty there was hit or miss. My son would bring home 50% on his mathwork. I knew that was not right for someone of his intelligence level. But the teacher couldn't be bothered - she did have 20 other students that needed her attention. Whenever he would get home we would spend another hour or two going over what they were supposed to have learned that day. I thought it was ridiculous that I had to teach him on top of sending him to school.

On the first day of Christmas break I started homeschooling him. We have been using the computer-based curriculum Time4Learning. When we started I was hoping that a computer based curriculum would be able to hold his attention better because he likes computers. And I was right. One time he got a 50% and I asked him why. He said he didn't know which one was the answer. I explained that you have to read the question, think of the answer, and then pick which option matches your answer. He says, "oh" and then got a 100%. Turns out that no one explained how multiple choice questions work to him before then. #PublicSchoolFail

Over the rest of the break he kept flourishing. His behavior was getting better and better. My other children loved having him back home. His grades were excellent. So we kept him home in the Spring Semester. I started him at the beginning of the school year at Christmas.

Get this:

He will be completely finished with first grade in the next day or so...depending on how much he drags his feet. (Those last couple assignments get tedious for a six year old.) It's March 20. He finished an entire grade in 3 months! #HomeSchoolSuccess

I am so pleased with him. He makes me so happy. He is such a hard worker. Even though something is hard and he doesn't like it, he still does it. I don't let him play video games until his school work is done for the day. He only has a little amount of time he's allowed to play and when the time is up, he can do the next day's assignment early if he so chooses...he's never done that, btw.

So since some of you reading this can't help being negative I'll address some of your responses before you write them.
You may be thinking "well, Time4Learning isn't very hard. The Public School has harder material." No. That's not true. Sure, think whatever you want. I saw the materials Caleb came home with. I couldn't believe how simple the materials were.

"Time4Learning is easy." Caleb thinks it is hard. It adequately challenges and teaches. He knows the material now which is the goal so I don't care how "easy" or "hard" a program is as long as my son knows the materials.

"That much time on a computer is bad for kids. I read a story of a kid DYING because he did school on the computer." There's always that mom, isn't there? I'm sure I'll notice my son's failing health long before he dies. Technology is the path of the future, we'd be fools to not use a computer on a daily basis.

"What about penmanship?" Don't worry, we still use Spelling-You-See. Also, he's doing great with that. He is not almost done there because I forgot about it for TWO MONTHS! During that two month period I was having him write various things and it was when I thought, "Why don't have a curriculum doing this for me?" That I remembered my old purchase.

For science we had a subscription to Magic School Bus monthly mailers, but we only have one month left. Time4Learning does have a science curriculum  but it is really basic. Turns out that at this level all science curriculums are pretty basic. I guess I have high standards having majored in biology. I'm hoping to get a microscope and go through my own ideas. And also we have some science museums that we can becomes yearly members. Once the kids get a bit older then we can have some real science fun. I still have a bunch of my college science supplies.

"I would never let my kids have video games as a reward. Don't you know kids shouldn't be playing that much on screens?" I know! I am the worst! How dare I let my kid have fun in the way he chooses...Excuse my sarcasm. I don't want my kid turning out like your kid, so we're good. If God wanted you to parent my kid He would have given you my child, but he didn't. My son learned how to correctly read a map because of a video game. He learned budgeting, spacial awareness, strategy, and also gets reading practice and addition/subtraction practice. The best part is that he doesn't even realize that's what's going on. It's "real world" application of his schoolwork. I've seen his game playing ability increase as his schoolwork ability increases. He's reading and planning ahead based on concepts he learned in school.

So, if you have real questions and not any snarky attempts at masking your jealousy as you try to burst my bubble, feel free to ask. Every parent will have to find what works with their child. Every child is different. You have to figure out what style, setting, and curriculum works for both of you. Maybe Public is best for you. Good for you. It was terrible for us. Maybe you hate computers, well how are you reading this then? Keep your fake concern, send your genuine questions.


I don't have any arms!
Zoë helps!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

motherhood is more than a calling

I always discourage people from trying to discern God's will through their feelings. "What do you feel like God is saying to you?" Is not something I would say. I think our feelings are fickle and deceptive. So it's no surprise that for myself I don't "feel" called to motherhood.

Awhile back I was trying to figure out what my calling is and what it will be after my children no longer need me. I was trying to figure out how to use my gifts and talents for God and his glory. I didn't see that I was currently doing that and I wanted to start.

Being a dancer I was trying to think of different outreach avenues I could pursue when I thought of the clever idea of having a ballet pregnancy photoshoot and then auctioning the canvasses to support pro-life organizations or donating them to pro-life pregnancy centers. I contacted a couple of places and they loved the idea! I was excited to finally be of use to the Kingdom!

My husband was initially supportive but for some yet unknown reason has at least become temporarily unsupportive. (EDIT 3/19: turns out he was unsupportive because he thought it was going to cost us money. When he found out that it didn't cost us any money only time, he became supportive again. But now this makes me wonder about the sincerity of what he said next. Maybe he was just trying to say anything to get out of spending money.) And then he said the most shocking thing- he said that I already am using my gifts and talents for the Lord by being a mother and that I'm doing a good job.

This shocked me because he's never told me that he thought I was doing a good job. I had the distinct impression based on his number of criticisms and comments (he says are meant to be helpful. They are actually discouraging) that he thought I was a bad mother. Words are apparently not his gifting.

So this got me thinking about motherhood. On one hand I don't want to be a mother because it ruins my body and my health and takes my freedom. On the other hand, I am a mother and it is my calling so none of the negatives matter. It takes an extremely selfish person to use those reasons to escape motherhood or prevent motherhood. Besides, I do want to be a mother. I enjoy being a mother. I've always wanted to be a mother. I love my children.

Why is motherhood hard sometimes? One reason is because of how selfless I have to be. When I have to teach the same academic or life lesson over and over, it's tiring. It's frustrating. Then I remembered that this is a calling. To better understand this calling and better understand motherhood I had to think of my children as the talents in the Parable that Jesus told. To some he gave one, to some he gave two and others ten. What am I going to do with this investment? I can shirk it and run away in fear. Or I can humbly walk alongside my children in hopes to point them to Christ. When I see my calling as a change of focus from me to what does God need see to do, it helps me see myself better. It makes it easier for me to pour myself out completely.

I may never achieve my dreams if I pursue God's calling on my life. To me that means my desires were not in-line with God's desires. In that case, it is good that I never achieve my dreams. So now I am free to pursue God's dreams for me. I can wipe that nose, clean that mess, prepare that food, and love my children. Ultimately God's calling is not "motherhood" but "disciple maker". That puts everything into focus.

discernment

And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more 
with knowledge and all discernment -Philippians 1:9
It seems that here in the Bible Belt, at least, perhaps everywhere, it is very difficult to discern the difference between Scripture and what I coined "feel-goodery".

One example of lack of discernment comes out of Mississippi over a decade ago when madness over a natural soap took hold of my circle of friends. They said that because the maker of this soap prayed over the soap that it had mystic powers to cure cancer among other amazing miracles. Of course, none of this was verifiable. It was absurd. I had a young and well-meaning friend ask me, "Lauren, if they want to believe that it cures them, why not just let them believe it?" On the one hand, why was I so concerned over what blissful sheep believe? I didn't lose or gain anything by their belief in superstitions. On the other, these were my friends being duped. So what did it matter? By trusting in some watery goop to heal you instead of science, you're putting yourself in danger. You're putting your children in danger. And besides all the science, your giving glory to a substance instead of to God. It's idolatry. Like the science. Love God. Don't trust scammers. I mean, seriously. The maker was in jail for scams and these poor people were still falling for his scams. I don't understand the willfully blind.

Another example of lack of discernment comes out of Texas last year when madness over the presidential election reached a peak. I had written that I couldn't wait for Pastors to stop being so hysterical over it and a friend wrote, "We are grateful for a pastoral staff who is not afraid to stand up for biblically based truths and beliefs. I am particularly grateful that we are not a "seeker" church and do not have "feel good" sermons every Sunday." She failed to see how her pastor was tickling the ears of his congregants. It broke my heart to see my friend blinded by a man she trusted. The lack of discernment of the pastor, my friend, and the rest of the congregation is typical in the Bible Belt and especially Texas. Here, they confuse patriotism and Christianity. They think "Republican" is synonymous with Biblical. Her pastor actually said that the Republican platform was the Christian one. It breaks my heart to see such ignorance and stupidity being preached and my blind friends following it unquestioningly. Of course, anyone familiar with the Bible knows that to not be true. The platform of Christ rests on two sentences:
Jesus answeredThe most important is, ‘HearO IsraelThe Lord our Godthe Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” -Mark 12:29-31
Neither of which are found in the Republican platform of over 40 pages. But that church has stopped preaching from the Bible and has decided to take refuge in political speeches. That church lacks discernment and has failed to teach discernment. Instead now the pastor tickles the ears of his very Republican congregation and shares what they like to hear. He even came back his next sermon saying, "most people liked what I said." As if that is any indicator of what God would want him to preach. So sad.

Quite contrary to Scripture, this pastor said he was afraid "for the babies". I can respect that sentiment except that the Bible clearly says that fear has no place in love and that anything done out of fear is sin. This pastor's personal assistant said blatantly "I am very afraid of the evil that will be unleashed if Hillary Clinton wins. " What place does fear have in the hearts of the Believers? This lack of faith and trust in God was preached and learned. If this PA had discernment she'd see her own hypocrisy once it was pointed out to her. And I'd like to do my "I told ya so" dance (probably not out of humility...I'd really enjoy to be proven wrong in the coming months) as I point out how abortion is still legal despite all the lying politicians clamoring for the hearts of the blind republicans hod the majority in the House, Senate, and the Presidency. I've said it so many times but it needs repeating- I don't care who the president is. I am very concerned for the hearts of my friends trusting in lying men and fearing hypothetical doomsday scenarios instead of trusting God. This breaks my heart.




My final example for now probably snags the majority of women I know. It's a combination of trendiness, Prosperity Gospel feel-goodery, empty positivity, and plain ol' ear tickling. I qualify the type of positivity to be clear that there are good forms of positivity and then there's the empty variety. Being positive for positivity sake is useless and leads to danger. Sometimes you don't "just keep swimming". If you can base your positivity on Christ, then your positivity is well-founded.

In particular, there was a post shared that read, "God knew what kind of mother our children would need long before they were even born." I don't want to embarrass anyone with this specific example of lack of discernment so I won't name names. Google it if you absolutely MUST know where this comes from. It does not come from the Bible. My friend shared this. But this implication that because God knew what would happen, then you're ok, is precisely the ego-stroke that narcissistic mothers love to hear so they don't have to change and be the women God wants them to be. Rather we should instead go with Biblical encouragement and Biblical positivity which reads like "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28 This is comforting because it tells mothers not to "rest in who they are even if they're garbage mothers" but to try to do what God wants them to do according to Scripture (none of this "I can audibly hear the voice of God telling me to kill everyone" madness. I mean actual Scripture.) and even when we fail as mothers, which will happen, instead point our kids to Christ so that they can lean on Him and not us. Perhaps that was the original intent, unfortunately that was not what was written. I get being a poor writer. I'm a poor writer. But this is not my job. For a writer to be a bad writer and a self-proclaimed teacher to be a bad teacher, is grave "for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness." (James 3:1)

It takes discernment to detect the difference between these two sentiments. It takes Scripture reading, Scripture studying, and Scripture meditating to see the lies in feel-goodery, empty positivity, prosperity gospel ear tickles. I get it - I'm a "Debby Downer" for not just letting people blissfully walk off cliffs. Maybe I'd have more friends if I didn't speak about foolishness. I like it when people point out where I'm wrong. I've had to learn humility to accept correction. I get corrected all the time. It's ok to be wrong, just change your stance to be in-line with Scripture. It's that easy. This post will only upset you if you are too prideful. Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.  (Proverbs 16:18) My husband and I were recently discussing how some people insist they are right even when proven wrong and instead of easily saying, "oops", they carry on and on about how they were actually right or how everyone else is wrong. It only makes her look more stupid. I've looked stupid on many occasions. In humility, I admit many mistakes. The easiest way to be mistake-free is to base all your decisions on Scripture. It might seem hypocritical of me. I don't trust anyone who denies their own hypocrisy. That person is a victim of their own lies and does not know Truth.

If you want to ask my opinion on pieces requiring discernment, then I'd point out that, still, you lack the very simple discernment that I am not an authority on discernment. Tricky, huh? I can point you to Scripture, hopefully, but anyone who points to themselves or anything other than Scripture is a deceiver. I'm trying to not be hypocritical. I'm trying to be humble. I am genuinely apologetic if my tone does not com across at humble. Discernment is a strength of mine and I do not mean to only compare my strengths to others' weaknesses. I hope that instead of accusing me of pride here that you will give me grace and instead accuse me of not writing eloquently. I try but I understand that I fail. Not everyone hears things, read things, the same way; or the way they're intended.

Any positivity post that is unbiblical is from the Father of Lies at worst and a blind teacher at best. Any preacher preaching any gospel other than that found in Scripture, let me echo Galatians 1 and say, "let him be accursed". Any product taking the place of prayer in your life, is an idol.


Monday, March 13, 2017

teaching grace

My five year old, Micah, is in the process of learning some tough lessons. It seems he can't remember to behave without constant reminders. I've told him that this is ok because he's just a little guy and the older he gets the easier it will be to remember. I've told him that when we're bad at something that means we have to practice - that includes behavior, video games, schoolwork, and anything else. I've tried to stop saying "that's bad" and replace it with "that needs practice".

He still beats himself up over making mistakes. If he runs and yells at a store and knocks things over, like he and his brother did yesterday at Ross, he feels terrible. I let him know that I still love him but I need him to practice remembering to listen to my instructions. He says he's just a bad guy.

I tell him that I mess up but that God still gives me grace. I share Bible verses like Lamentations 3:22-23
The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end
    they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
I explain that we all need God's mercy and grace. And while we might be bad, God can make us good. It isn't always easy but we have to keep remembering and keep trying.

Perhaps instead of trying to remember to be good, I will teach him to remember God, which is better. By remembering God we can't help but be good. (I would argue that if someone is being bad they aren't remembering God properly.)

YESTERDAY, right after our trip to Ross, I was driving in Argyle, TX, on 377. Most of the road is 60 mph. So I was a bit surprised when I got pulled over. I don't speed. This isn't something that I do. It turns out that there is about a mile of the road that is 50 mph. Justice was served with me getting a citation. This is right and just. I received no grace and no mercy. I feel terrible. That's a $200 fine all because I didn't know the rules.

Today Micah saw me write a check to the Town of Argyle and asked what it was. I don't write checks ever so he's never seen one. I explained that I had to write a check that allowed Argyle to take money out of my bank or go to jail. He was very concerned at the idea of me going to jail and I said that paying the fine will keep me out of jail. I was able to explain that even though I didn't know what the rules were I had broken them and I had to pay the price. I was bad and needed to have justice done. I was sad and sorry and had to remember in the future to obey the rules. Micah hung his head and said, "yeah, sometimes I don't remember either."

I said, "But I still love you."

I started crying. I think it's a combination of being tired and being filled with pregnancy hormones. Micah asked why I was crying. I said it was because I was sad I was bad. And he hugged me. I said, "It's ok because God still loves me."

He seemed to respond very well to seeing me be bad, having to pay for it, being repentant, and still receiving God's love. Paying the fine was just. Receiving God's love is unjust. I was really mad yesterday that I received a ticket. I can blame anyone but it's only me who was at fault. I haven't gotten a speeding ticket in almost two decades (because, yes, I'm that old).

I was mad at God for letting me get a ticket and then having to pay such a great amount of money that could have been spent elsewhere. But I figured it's God's money to put wherever he wants and if he needs to hurt me with it to teach me humility, so be it. After all, am I really being hurt if I'm being disciplined and refined? No, just like pruning a tree to produce healthier branches isn't hurting the tree. It's such a small price to pay to be better conformed into the image of Christ.

Also, I was immediately convicted and remorseful that I'd get angry at God when I was the one at fault. I was immediately filled with awe that God would still love someone like me. Such a sin-filled heart. So much love and grace. Yesterday taught me, again, how much I need God and how much I do not deserve God.

Today, I was able to use my lessons of yesterday to teach my son by example. I don't recommend speeding as a means to teach your children Divine truths. But I am grateful that the opportunity presented itself in a timely manner that Micah was able to learn a spiritual lesson right alongside me.

I started a Beth Moore study and the questions were fitting. "When was the last time Christ amazed you? How did it come about? What did it change about your circumstances?" I very much like that my circumstances didn't change. I wish that I could have learned the lesson without losing money. But because nothing changed, there was nothing earned, there was no prosperity gospel sneaking into my story. I was repentant and nothing changed in the physical realm.

A few pages over, Beth Moore asks, "...it means that you can "see" and take part in the breathtaking work of Christ in your life. What glimpses have you seen of this already?" There's so much to write in this section. There's even more than what I've written above, but it deserves it's own post. It's interesting to see how thoughts of the past few weeks culminate at a point like this.

She then finished the day with a prayer. I'll give you a glimpse into the very personal prayer I wrote. I'm kinda hoping you can't read my handwriting.


For you will not delight in sacrificeor I would give it;
you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heartO Godyou will not despise.
Psalm 51:16-17



Monday, February 20, 2017

fact families in scripture

fact family
My son is learning fact families in math. At the same time, I'm studying The Armor of God via Priscilla Shirer's study book of the same name. What I'm going to share shouldn't be earth-shattering, but I have a bad feeling that it will be for some readers. The fact family that we started discussing in the book was the strategies of the enemy. The Father of Lies strategy is through lies, illusions, deceptions, delusions, fantasies, to name a few. They all go together. They're members of the same family. What's most crafty about Satan's lies is that they're mostly true. Sometimes, all he does is ask a question. He may deceive with what is mostly true and good. But almost true is still false. A Christian must be on guard at all times against the enemy's darts if he is to discern between right and almost right. We must be sober-minded and watchful. Our enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour (I Peter 5:8). It is especially dangerous down in the Bible Belt. The overwhelming majority of church-goes down here lack discernment. They blindly follow political leaders hoping to maintain social and cultural norms even if they are unbiblical. Don't be like them. Instead, be like the Berean Jews who questioned the Apostle Paul and made sure even he was inline with Scripture. Paul encouraged others to follow their example. Any good leader will encourage you to search the Scripture to verify what he says. Someone can use a Bible verse the support their opinion, but that does not make their opinion Biblical. The verse could be out of context or misinterpreted. If you are unfamiliar with the Bible, you will fall prey to their craftiness every time.

None of that is even what I'm planning on sharing. Rather, I want to share a couple of questions she asks on page 59:
What are some of the most misleading images and perceptions that adults and children alike tend to believe?
and
How can you clearly see the enemy's strategy behind these philosophies or trends?

Three lies that are prevalent in today's society struck out to me. I'm not saying thee are the top three or the best three or most prevalent. I'm only saying these three were what came to mind.

First lie that came to mind believed by most Americans, Christian and non-Christian alike, is that happiness is ultimate. My thought goes all the way back to my college days when I asked fellow Christian students what the point of life is and they decided being happy was the purpose. We might think that's stupid, college-kid talk, but the pursuit of happiness is part of Declaration of Independence. It is core to our society. These students were simply products of their culture. We have so many friends and family members pursuing happiness. We have cultures pursuing happiness on this planet in ways that are horrific to the rest of us. Why do people hurt, steal, rape, kill, enslave, and murder others? They think it will make them happy. People never identify themselves as the bad guy. They're only "misunderstood". Understand this, you will only be most happy when your satisfaction is found in Christ. Deny yourself, die to yourself daily, take up your cross, lose your life for Christ. Does this sound familiar? Matthew 16:24, Mark 8:34, Luke 9:23 How can you tell if you are a bad guy or not? What I ask myself is, "What does God have to say about this? Am I being a product of my culture or is this really what the Bible says?" I get advice on the big things that aren't clear to me. If someone says, "I think that's ok." but they can't give me a Biblical reason why it's ok, I need to ask someone with a deeper relationship with Christ. We can't let our fleeting feelings guide us. We can't "be true to ourselves" or "follow our hearts" because these are complete lies from Satan and go exactly opposite what God tells us in his Word: Deny yourself (Matthew 16:24), We have a nature of sin (Romans 7:14-24), and our hearts are deceitfully wicked (Jeremiah 17:9).

Happiness is not ultimate. God is ultimate. Your happiness is secondary, if not tertiary, to God's glory. Once you find your satisfaction in Him and Him alone, you will find your idols strangely dim and non-consequential. This is a hard truth. Christ sacrificed himself for us and asks us to sacrifice ourselves for him.



The second lie that I see many Christians believing is that they are entitled to comfort. You see these Christians planning how many kids they want and the timing between them to make their own lives as easy as possible. Many Christians decide they want none or only one. It's their choice. It's their body. They prayed about it. It's all lies. If you are not living your life for God, your comfort is stupid. These Christians are not living their lives for God. They are living their lives for comfort. For their own happiness. They aren't willing to sacrifice. They have to have the 4000 square foot home, and the yacht, and the vacations, and the stuff (you don't need stuff in excess to still idolize your stuff). I used to get jealous of seeing so many people with stuff but then I remembered Colossians 3:1-2 that says, "If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth." So we don't plan our kids like a budget but trust that God only creates good things and those good things have purpose from conception. I have never heard a godly excuse for using birth control. Question yourself in this. Are you a victim of your culture or did you really come away from Scripture reading one day and suddenly realize you should trust your own might over God's? Perhaps while reading Genesis 11? Never has this happened. Instead, suddenly this past century people started praying about whether they've been "called" to have kids. I can tell you that if God has not called you to have kids, then go ahead and skip the condom and see if you're right. God will certainly not get in the way of his own callings. A house divided cannot stand. Read more about this challenge to trust God will all your heart, soul, mind, and strength here.



The third lie I recently saw, to my shock and horror, is that children need their parents. The specific incident was in a group where the question was asked, if you had to choose between your unborn child and your wife, who would you choose or what would you hope your husband would choose? Any pro-lifer would say, choose the baby. Any godly woman would gladly offer her life for the mere chance that her child would live. That's why parents dive in after their kid or try to grab them from the street and other acts of selflessness. But one mother said she'd hope her husband would choose her because she has other kids at home who need her.

This is a lie from Satan.

Your kids do not need you. They need Jesus. Jesus will bring his chosen ones to himself however he chooses. It is never godly to take someone else's life for the convenience of your family. Another fellow said he could make another child but couldn't just make another wife. These disgusting platitudes are from people claiming to be Christian. They reek of the death culture we are surrounded in. Satan is very glad to have so convincingly deceived so many into thinking that one life is better than the other. It's especially interesting when our Declaration of Independence says that all men are created equal. A godly person sacrifices their life for their children. A godly person does not think that their family will never survive without them. What egotistical nonsense! Your family doesn't need you. Your family needs God. And God will use even fire to sanctify his chosen ones and help conform them into the image of his Son, Jesus. I will gladly die if it means my children bear the image of Christ. Whoever loves his children more than he loves Jesus is not worthy of Him (Matthew 10:37).

This is a hard truth. Think of it this way- God has run an infinite number of scenarios in which you live and die different ways, but this chosen way gets you all the closer to the image of Christ. You want this way, even if it's hard. There is much more to this discussion as far as people's choice versus God's sovereignty that I can't possibly give adequate attention to. Maybe one day.



This post is meant to challenge you. Question yourself. Question your leaders. Question your culture. If it isn't supported in the Bible, it isn't true and not worth your time. Soli Deo Gloria.

Colossians 3:1-2

Sunday, February 19, 2017

heres to you

I have a friend whom I love. She is admittedly in need of encouragement. Girl, if you're reading this I hope you find it encouraging.

I saw this on your Facebook wall:

6 Brutal Truths that will make you a Better Person
  1. If you’re not hearing back from someone, its because they have deliberately chosen not to answer you.
  2. Everyone has his or her own best interests at heart. Nobody’s going to stick up for you if you don’t stick up for yourself.
  3. You’re never going to please everyone. You’re going to be criticized no matter what you do, so might as well do what you love.
  4. Your actions define you, not your thoughts. Your character is determined by what you do, not by what you think about.
  5. The world owes you absolutely nothing. You may be the coolest, kindest, smartest, but you’re still not entitled to absolutely nothing [sic].
  6. Nobody is coming to save you from your life. If anyone is going to save your day, it’s going to have to be you.
First, the title. These are not true and these will not make a better person. Instead, consider these verses from our ultimate source of Truth, the Word of God.


If you’re not hearing back from someone, its because they have deliberately chosen not to answer you.
1. Ecclesiastes 3:1 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.

If you're not hearing back from someone, it is possible they are giving you the cold shoulder. It could also be that they saw the text or voicemail while driving or at the playground with their kids or the doctor's office or a million other distractions. It may feel personal, but you can't judge a person's thoughts and intentions by their non-comments.

We love because He first loved us. I John 4:19 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. I Corinthians 13:7 So believe that others have the best intentions and bear with them. Their life is not centered around you but that doesn't mean they don't want you to be part of it.

Believing things are deliberate will only make you more cynical. My husband always says, "ignorance before malice" meaning whenever we are presented with an offense take the other person's action as done out of ignorance and not malice. This bit of advice has saved my soul by teaching me what "loving others" really means. So, think about things that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise (Philippians 4:8) by taking every thought captive to obey Christ (II Corinthians 10:5). Destroy those opinions raised against the knowledge of God.



Everyone has his or her own best interests at heart. Nobody’s going to stick up for you if you don’t stick up for yourself.
2. Without Christ, everyone only thinks of himself. Within the body of Christ it should not be so. How can you tell who is in the Body of Christ and who isn't? Those without Christ will only think of themselves. Those in Christ will be known by their love (John 13:35). We are to outdo each other by showing honor to each other (Romans 12:10).

If you are all alone in a Christian-less mission field, you still have an advocate (I John 2:1). Life in the Bible Belt of southern USA often feels Christian-less, but you have friends who love God and love you - in that order, the way it should be.


You’re never going to please everyone. You’re going to be criticized no matter what you do, so might as well do what you love.
3. You're never going to please everyone...so you might as well do what pleases God. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God (Romans 8:8). If I were still trying to please man, including myself, I could not be a servant of Christ (Galatians 1:10). Without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). Not all self-identifying Christians are Christian, but we will remain Christ-like despite their falsehood.
Read these verses!

Your actions define you, not your thoughts. Your character is determined by what you do, not by what you think about.
4. What you think about comes out through your actions. What comes out of a person is what defiles him. From within, from the heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within (Mark 7). So we ask the Father to cleanse our hearts and renew a correct spirit (Psalm 51:10). We are sinful creatures not because of what we do but because of what we are. We are in need of redemption from our sinful nature. Christ's blood purifies us. The Old Testament sacrifices covered the actions of Israel, but the blood of the True Lamb changes us from within. You character is determined by what is on the inside.



The world owes you absolutely nothing. You may be the coolest, kindest, smartest, but you’re still not entitled to absolutely nothing [sic].
5. This is true. The world owes you nothing. But conversely, you owe Christ everything. He has laid down his life for the world and he asks us to do the same. He commands that we do the same. If anyone would follow Christ, he must deny himself and take up his cross every day (Luke 9:23). So while the world owes you nothing, you owe the world everything through obedience in Christ.



Nobody is coming to save you from your life. If anyone is going to save your day, it’s going to have to be you.
6. Christ has already saved you. "If anyone is going to save your day, it's going to be you." is directly countered by the words of Christ in Luke 9: Whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.


So, friend, counter these negative thoughts with meditation on the Word of God. Don't let the enemy in this world discourage you by trying to tell you that you are your own savior. You are not and you cannot be. There is freedom in this knowledge. The Bible is full of ways to combat the enemy. And sometimes as the Body of Christ, we will fail you. Life is hard. Better people have been through worse and I consider myself lucky to only have the hardships that I do. I hope you will too.

Love is patient. So be patient with yourself. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

ballerina sticks

This week I go back into the theater after a ten year hiatus.

It's also the week before Valentines!

There are many children in this production and I thought I'd make a cute Valentine for them. Then I thought that maybe some of the not-quite-children dancers would want one. So I made a bunch. And to be sure to save anyone's feelings, I'm bringing extra supplies to make more if need be!

Supplies are easy:
popcycle sticks
black pen
colored markers
mini cupcake liners
colored cereal (I used Tootie Fruties but any circle will work even Trix)

And assemble as shown. It's that easy. I found drawing all the shoes/faces/leaotards, coloring each accordingly, then gluing all the buns, then gluing all the tutus to be easier rather than completely assembling each ballerina.

For my homeschooled ballerinas.
















I'll attach a note saying "Love, Lauren" and that's it!
You could add variation by using an M&M for the bun and using frosting to adhere it so its edible. Or use a wrapped candy. If you want to share your version, please share it! I'd love to see it!








Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Bear Hug Giveaway

Yesterday I received I'm Going to Give You a Bear Hug in the mail. Immediately my 5-year-old son
exclaimed, "Is that for me?!" And he insisted we read it together. He loved it. When the book was finished he hugged me like a bear. It was adorable. Later that day, my 6-year-old was looking for a book to read and grabbed this book as well. He was able to read almost the whole thing. "Feathered" gave him a little difficulty. But he was excited to be able to read a whole book and I think he even noticed the rhythm of the rhyme. AND HE ALSO FELT THE NEED TO GIVE ME BIG HUGS! It was so cute.

It's a good book. The pictures are nice and, for a delightful change, the rhymes actually are beautifully executed. It's very creative and the kids love it. You can win a copy by entering the rafflecopter and checking back here on Sunday.


a Rafflecopter giveaway


ABOUT THE BOOK:

Grand Rapids, MI--- December 27, 2016---I’m Going to Give You a Bear Hug!, written by bestselling author Caroline B. Cooney, is a playful and comforting bedtime book that imagines all the wonderful ways a child might give and receive a hug.
Whether it’s a big bear, gasp for air, knock over a chair hug or a wet and drippy, slimy, slippy fish hug, children will giggle their way through all the imaginative examples. Cooney’s sweet and simple rhymes encourage playful interaction between parent and child and ultimately help them wind down before they snuggle into bed and drift off to sleep.
I’m Going to Give You a Bear Hug is a sweet loving bedtime story book that is also sure to become a Valentine’s Day favorite for little ones who enjoy celebrating a day full of hugs and kisses from loved ones. I’m Going to Give You a Bear Hug will be available in hardcover for $16.99 in retail stores nationwide and online on December 27, 2016. Pre-order opportunities will begin on September 28th
 ****
About the Author: Caroline B. Cooney was born in New York, grew up in Connecticut, and now lives in South Carolina. Caroline is the author of 90 Young Adult novels in many genres, and her books have sold over fifteen million copies. I’m Going to Give You a Bear Hug is her first picture book. It’s based on a verse she wrote for her own children, Louisa, Sayre and Harold, who are grown now.

 About the Illustrator: Tim Warnes has been illustrating children's books for twenty years. He lives in Dorset, England, with his wife, children's illustrator Jane Chapman, and their two sons. When he's not drawing little critters, Tim loves to write, watch birds and play his banjo.  Visit Tim at www.ChapmanandWarnes.com


Zonderkidz™, the children’s division of Zondervan, inspires young lives through imagination and innovation. As the leader in Christian children's communications, it creates products that awaken the hearts and touch the souls of kids under 14. Zonderkidz is also publisher of the NIrV (New International Reader’s Version) Bible translation, the third grade reading level edition of the NIV. For additional information, please visit www.zondervan.com


Zondervan is a world-leading Bible publisher and provider of Christian communications. Zondervan, as part of HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Inc., delivers transformational Christian experiences through its bestselling Bibles, books, curriculum, academic resources and digital products. The Company’s products are sold worldwide and translated into nearly 200 languages. Zondervan offices are located in Grand Rapids, MI. For additional information, please visit www.zondervan.com.


Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255:  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”):  Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway.  Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.  I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller /FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days on the same blog, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again.  Winner is subject to eligibility verification.